Sunday Meeting

On Feb 10, Robert Wager from Vancouver Island University will discuss GMOs.

Robert Wager, genetic engineering researcher at Vancouver Island University will be presenting at our February 10th meeting to discuss genetically modified foods.

Civilization owes its success to the invention we call agriculture.  So powerful was this change, hunter-gathers became agrarian societies.  The huge increase in food allowed cities to form.  The rest, as they say, is history.  All was well until the human population grew to over three billion.  A global catastrophe was imminent.  Humans had to find a way to produce more food or billions would starve.  Thankfully people like Dr. Norman Borlaug saved billions from starvation with what has been called the “green revolution”.

New breeding techniques, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides doubled the global output of food.  Though not perfect, these techniques fed the world.  The “population bomb” was defused, or at least delayed.  Today the world’s population is over 7 billion and is expected to reach 8-10 billion by 2050.  New answers to the age old problem of feeding the world must be found.  Is Genetic engineering of crops part of the answer?

Genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) crops were first envisioned in the late 1970’s with the advent of recombinant DNA technologies.  Humans had discovered methods to do what nature had been doing for billions of years, moving DNA between species.  With this novel technology scientists/plant breeders began selectively moving desirable traits (encoded in the DNA) between crop plants.

But not everyone thought these technologies were a good idea.  Long before the first GM crop was commercialized, critics began their campaigns to have these “frankenfoods” banned.  The critics claimed we were playing god by changing the DNA in un-natural ways.  Those same criticisms are very prevalent in today’s anti-GMO campaigns.

In reality GM crops are neither the ‘dangerous, evil creations’ the critics would have us believe nor are they the panacea that will solve world hunger.  They are just another set of tools in the global agricultural toolbox.  The simple truth is the world does not have the luxury of rejecting this technology for ideological reasons.  Therefore, the important question is:

Can GM crop technology be used safely?
The answer may surprise you.

Robert Wager
Vancouver Island University
Nanaimo BC

All are welcome to attend our weekly Sunday meetings at Oakridge Seniors Centre, which start at 10am. After about half an hour of coffee, tea, and socializing, we discuss topics of interest to our members.

For more details on how to find the centre: http://bchumanist.ca/index.php/component/content/article/10-events/26-oakridge-seniors-centre

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